January 8, 2012
By Cara Bayles
The food stand Taqueria Guzman has been on South Van Avenue for two years.
Owner Francesca Rasgado, who is originally from Mexico and has lived in Houma for five years, says most of her customers are recent immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Columbia and Venezuela.
“Business has been good. A little slow,” she said. “It’s better in the summer, when people find work and spend a little more money.”
From road-side taquerias to retailers, Latino-owned businesses have popped up in the Houma area over the past few years, and most of the shop owners are themselves immigrants who cater to the needs of others from their home countries.
According to U.S. Census data, the number of people of Hispanic or Latino descent in Terrebonne Parish more than doubled between 2000 and 2010, surging from 1,631 to 4,421.
In Lafourche Parish, the population grew from 1,284 to 3,647 over the same 10-year period.
But many business owners say they found the Houma market attractive because other retailers and restaurateurs were not catering to the Latino community.
Jose Cantu, owner of Houma’s Plaza Latina, worked as a welder in Mississippi during the week and sold items door-to-door on weekends.
“There was a lot of competition in Mississippi,” he said. “The other people selling told me to go somewhere else.”
The somewhere else he picked was Houma. He opened Plaza Latina, which sells specialty groceries and clothes, nearly four years ago.
The vast majority of his customers are immigrants, he said, who are drawn in by the tortillas, soft drinks and other groceries that are difficult to find at other local supermarkets.
“I need more American customers,” said Cantu, who hopes his plans to add a meat counter by the summer will draw a more diverse crowd.
Down the street at Taqueria D.F., Jose Campusano said that his brother Francisco moved the business from Houston because there was too much competition there. The restaurant has been serving up Mexican food on Grand Caillou Road in Houma for three years and opened another outlet in Morgan City.
But he said his customers are diverse.
“We get every kind of person,” he said.
Source: Houma Today